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Jen Helant
Jen Helant, Child Care
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1124
Experience:  I have my bachelors degree in psychology. I worked with children. Since then I have raised and still raising 3 wonderful boys.
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My 13 year old daughter, Kat, my only daughter, will be turning

Customer Question

My 13 year old daughter, Kat, my only daughter, will be turning 14 in less than a month. I believe we have a good relationship in that we have an open line of communication. She is in the gifted & talented classes in her public schools and has been since 1st grade. In addition, she very much exhibits an "old soul" in her maturity and emotional level. I've raised her from her birth as a stay at home mother (presently age 47), as her bio-dad has been a "hit and run" parent all of her life. I married 7 years ago, and Kat & her step-dad Roger (age 60) were very close up until recently (past year or so).

Well, she came to me this morning before school, and asked that I meet a 20 year old boy that she claims to have only known for a week, but that she proclaims to have had many many conversations with during this time. She has not ever been sexually active & I am just incredibly uneasy about this friendship and the age difference. She has always gravitated to an older crowd, within 2-4 years of her age. And I have always closely overseen these friendships. But she tells me this morning, when I say he is too old and that there are statutory rape laws in Texas that I will agree to meet him, but I make no promises beyond that. She says he would like to be "part of the family" but that if I forbid their dating, he will just be her friend. And she stated that she's done her internet research and that he & she understands that there could be no physical relationship whatsoever.

I have always tried to be open & non-judgmental towards her friend. Especially in the fact that Kat dresses on the darker side, like an "emo scene" style, apparently do to a bunch of bullying she has always endured in school.

I would greatly appreciate any and all advice on this question as I plan to print it out to show her that I too have done my research. Thank you very much in advance.

Tori
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Jen Helant replied 1 year ago.
I would be very concerned about this new relationship. Even though your daughter may seem to be mature and is extremely gifted and intelligent it doesn't remove the fact that she is still a child. She lacks the experience of this world and still needs you to be her guide.

By what you wrote it seems that even though she is aware of the law and they are unable to be physical she would like to be if she could. I would be extremely careful with this relationship and not allow them to be alone. Not only he could rape or sexually assault her, but she may also have willing sexual relations. Children are very smart and when we trust them fully even though they are great kids they can fool us sometimes especially in this teenage phase. They can use our trust against us that is why it is extremely important for us to always be watching our children and not take their word alone. They can also change anytime especially during these teenage years due to peer pressure or the wrong influences. We may not even find out or realize until it is too late.

Usually if something doesn't make sense its not true. It really doesn't make sense that a 20 year old would want to have a friendship with a 13 years old. There has to be more to that story. Even if it is true and this 20 year old does want a friendship with your daughter there has to be some issues with him because that does not "normally" happen. He may have issues that you would not want your daughter exposed to. Also, as I mentioned above he could rape or sexually assault her. Usually a 20 year old befriending a 13 year old wants more than a friendship. He may feel that she is easier to be controlled due to her age and also looking for a sexual relationship thinking that too may be easier. The 20 year old should know better and the fact that he wants to be friends with her is definitely concerning.

Your daughter may have been drawn to him since she is mature and that is understandable. However, it is not understandable for the 20 year old. I would not encourage this relationship. She could be drawn to him due to her father being out of the picture that would draw her to such an older man even if it was just for a friend. In addition the bullying can also draw her to him since she can feel he understands when no one else does. Even though he may be a good guy and your daughter completely honest with you I still would not want to take that risk especially when there are plenty of other people she can meet her own age or even a little older just as well she has plenty of time for these adult relationships.

I would recommend counseling if this continues to be an issue that can not be controlled. It can help her deal with this along with any issues she may have due to her father and bullying issues.

I hope that this was helpful and if you need we can continue to work together until you are satisfied.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

So far I am very satisfied with what you are saying. I know in my heart of hearts this is no good. I will definitely dis-encourage this relationship & also insist that any and all interacting will be monitored by me and/or done with me being present. If I totally forbid it, the likely outcome would be rebellion & sneaking around.


 


I am also very curious, while doing my research, would you agree with this or not....


 


Copied from: http://parentingteens.about.com/u/ua/teendating/teendatingage.04.htm


 


Dating has no purpose.



Parents and teens embrace dating as a normal part of being a teenager. The truth of that is "single dating", that is having a boyfriend or girlfriend, does not benefit teens in anyway. Social skills can be developed without dating. Getting to know someone can be done on a "friends only" basis. There is no purpose to dating except to show "posession" of the other person and keep them "off the market" which is selfish. Real love can never develop out of that. Also, dating only provides an implied acceptance for a physical relationship. If "getting it on" is the only reason for dating, that too is a purely selfish motivation and a "real" relationship can never grow from that. The teen brain does not fully mature until around the age of 21. Until that time, the portion of the brain that controls empathy(prefrontal cortex) is not fully developed. Why would a parent allow a child without a fully developed brain to make decisions that could potentially effect their lives forever?



 

Expert:  Jen Helant replied 1 year ago.
I think that is a good idea to monitor their relationship. If you do not want to forbid them from seeing each other due to the risk of rebellion I would agree with that. That makes perfect sense I should have mentioned that, but was deep into the other aspects and did not mentioned that risk. I do apologize to you for that.


Based on the article I think in your case it is a "horse of a different color" since he is 20 yrs old. Just that alone causes great concern. However, about the article in general for teenagers I agree to a point. For example, I do agree that teenagers are not ready to make life changing decisions. At this point they may think they know everything or even feel in love with someone. These feelings are true, but since they are not fully matured they are incapable of making life decisions. This can definitely impact their future as the article states. However, when they say dating is senseless that all depends on how you define dating. For example I would consider dating to be getting to know other to determine who you would like to have a relationship with. It is not just a friendship because you are interested in being in a serious relationship with this person, but need to get to know them first. Some people may date one person at a time or see a few people. Sex can be involved or not. Whereas friendship is strictly friends. I do not think the type of dating I mentioned is selfish as the article states. What they are considering to be dating sounds more like a boyfriend and girlfriend relationship which they are calling senseless. In my opinion at the teenage years I do not recommend being serious with one person since they are still getting to know themselves and all about life. They may think they are ready to make life decisions when they are not. The best thing they can do is be friends with people. If that develops in a relationship later on that would be in the future. The main problem is sex. Sex among teenagers can be done between friends, dating, and/ or a relationship. I do not recommend this because they can get scarred by this as well as make mistakes that can also change their lives. However, the age is getting younger and younger of when sex is being started.

Next, you have the issue of is " It better for my child to be in a boyfriend and girlfriend relationship even if they are having sex since they are with one partner rather than several". It is very difficult to be a parent of a teenager and I think in actuality there are true facts just as they are not fully matured to make decisions as a teenager and they lack experience. However, the rest all depends what works for you and your family as well as what you think and believe in. We all want the best for our children and want to protect them. The best thing we can do is stay on top of them and deal with each situation as it arises. We can not predict what will happen, but can deal with each occurrence as it happens and make the best determination at that time.

I hope this helps!!!
Jen Helant, Child Care
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1124
Experience: I have my bachelors degree in psychology. I worked with children. Since then I have raised and still raising 3 wonderful boys.
Jen Helant and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I strictly do not believe in sex before 21 as I was unfortunately scarred by becoming pregnant @ age 16 and coerced my family, the father's family & the father to abort the baby. Which indelibly emotionally scarred me for life.


 


Thanks again for all of your great advice & will use this information in my upcoming & ongoing conversations with her.


 


God bless & take care <3


Tori

Expert:  Jen Helant replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your generous rating and bonus. I am sorry what happened to you at such a young age

I do agree with you about the no sex before 21 as well, but I do understand parents have different views in that. You are correct that is does scar them even the emotion of it all can be very overwhelming and confusing. It things were perfect and I had full control I would have my kids wait until marriage. It has been my pleasure working with you and happy I could be of help. All the best on talking with your daughter and the teenage years up ahead.

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